MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


The Program for Environmental Engineering Education and Research (PEEER) has now completed its sixth and last year of operation in its present form. The Program has functioned as a virtual center with the mission of coordinating and focusing research and education on the intersection between technology and sustainable development. Centered mainly in the School of Engineering, PEEER has involved faculty and research staff members and students from all of the other schools at MIT in examining a wide range of technology-related environmental problems, at all levels from local concerns to issues of international concern and transboundary effects. The objective of the program has been to establish multidisciplinary research efforts where none now exist and to strengthen existing efforts. This basic mission will not change in the future. The ideas and resulting educational, research and outreach activities of PEEER has set the framework for many new environmental interdisciplinary initiatives at MIT: including the MIT/Swiss Federal Institutions of Technology, University of Tokyo Alliance for Global Sustainability, The Management of the Future Uses of Chlorine Project, The Consortium on Environmental Challenges and the Martin Sustainability Fellows. In this process, PEEER has become spread throughout the Institute from its strong base in Engineering. In recognition of this , it will now become Program for Environmental Education and Research PEER. Further, so many new cross MIT environmental initiatives have grown up that a new Institute wide Center for Environmental Initiatives has also been formed to organize all these activities. This new center is described below. The new PEER program will be part of the Center for Environmental Initiatives. Professor David Marks of Civil and Environmental Engineering has become head of the CEI and Professor Jeffrey Steinfeld of the Department of Chemistry will take over as new head of PEER. He will be joined by a co head from Engineering, Dr. John Ehrenfeld of the Technology, Business and Environment Program and a co head from the Social Sciences and Planning, Professor Vicki Norberg Bohm of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The PEER program will continue its focus as coordinator and facilitator of MIT's internal environmental focus as well as an incubator for new research and international outreach. It will continue its role of building literacy about the environment throughout the MIT community, helping to encourage and coordinate subjects and educational programs and working to make sure that MIT's "house " is in order. The MIT units most active in PEEER activities who will continue in the new PEER program are:

MIT Energy Laboratory
Professor Jefferson Tester, Chemical Engineering

Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development (CTPID)
Professor Daniel Roos, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Nicholas A. Ashford, School of Engineering

Program in Business, Technology and the Environment
Dr. John Ehrenfeld, Chemical Engineering and CTPID

MIT/EPA Center for Airborne Toxins
Professor Jack Howard, Chemical Engineering

MIT/EPA Center for Environmental Remediation
Professor Dennis McLaughlin, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Materials Systems Laboratory
Professor Joel Clark, Materials Science and Engineering

Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Harold Hemond, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Philip A. Gschwend, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Professor Larry Susskind
Professor Lawrence Bacow
Professor Vicki Norberg-Bohm

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor Ian Waitz

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Rafael Bras

Department of Chemistry
Professor Jeffrey I. Steinfeld

Department of Nuclear Engineering
Professor George Apostalakis
Professor Michael Golay,

Department of Chemical Engineering
Professor Gregory McRae

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor Donald Sadoway

Department of Ocean Engineering
Professor Alan Brown
Professor Judith Kildow

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Professor Rafael Reif

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Professor David Wallace

Division of Toxicology
Professor Stephen Tannenbaum


This year, the PEEER research agenda has been focused on expanding its established long-term goals.The program has pursued work in the four areas of:

A large volume of research in traditional disciplines is underway at MIT in the area of environmental sciences, technology, and engineering. This research, and its educational components, have kept the Institute in the forefront of international research into environmentally relevant science and technology.

The PEEER perspective represents a new phase of environmental study at MIT, both internally and in international leadership. The Program is designed to stimulate and support inter-disciplinary activities especially in areas of newly evolving research, such as industrial ecology and the influence of science and technology on environmental policy. These activities build on MIT's strong disciplinary base in fields fundamental to the understanding of environmental issues. They bring together groups of investigators studying differing aspects of an environmental problem to analyze it and contribute to appropriate solutions. In 1996-97, PEEER faculty members have extended the Program's interdisciplinary focus into a major international collaboration on issues of sustainable development. The Alliance for Global Sustainability, described below, has completed its second year of activities, and has embarked upon a research and educational agenda of global scope.


PEEER also awards a fellowship made possible by the Martin Foundation.This year's recipient was Randy Weinstein, a student in the Chemical Engineering Department whose thesis supervisor is Professor Jefferson Tester of the Energy Laboratory. Randy is working in the area of environmental management through corporate culture and change. He is particularly interested in the areas of environmentally benign technologies.


MIT does an excellent job of educating and advancing the knowledge base for those who see themselves as environmental professionals (in areas like Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and Urban Studies and Planning) While promoting these programs, PEEER faculty are also focusing on the much larger group of engineering, science, management, and social science students whose daily professional decisions about materials choice, processing, product design, development strategies and recycling will have substantial implications for the environment.

PEEER has created a four-subject graduate sequence in Chemicals in the Environment which is designed to give graduate and advanced undergraduate students the skills they will need to become effective managers of the environment. The subjects have been developed to provide a systematic and interdisciplinary look at the critical issues of chemicals introduced into the environment and the work place. These subjects, designed for non-majors, are: Chemicals in the Environment: Sources and Controls (Chemical Engineering); Chemicals in the Environment: Chemicals and Human Disease (Toxicology); Chemicals in the Environment: Environmental Fate and Transport (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Chemicals in the Environment: Policy and Management (Urban Studies and Planning). In 1991, this series received the MIT Sizer Award for outstanding contribution to education at MIT.

Led by Professor J. I. Steinfeld, a Traineeship Program funded by the National Science Foundation and located in the Department of Chemistry, focuses on the Chemistry of the Environment. Nine faculty members are carrying out research in diverse areas relating to theproduction, dispersion, and removal of chemical species in the natural environment, and their interactions with biological systems. A central integrating component of the program is an interdisciplinary Seminar in Environmental Chemistry, which is required of the trainees but is open to all graduate and undergraduate students. The seminar addresses technical, economic, political, and environmental aspects of problems involving the intersection of chemistry and society.


Several of the initiatives outlined above included outreach to the industries, and governmental agencies, and public interest groups involved in the issues taken up by PEEER. In order to improve problem definition, share research findings, and identify emerging issues of interest to MIT, the program is communicating with these sectors through meetings, invited speakers, and publications.


PEEER is responsible for the publication of a monthly newsletter Environmental Calendar, edited by Dr. Teresa Hill (PEEER and DUSP). The newsletter includes details of upcoming events and synopses of research, editorial comment by faculty members, announcements, and other news of environmental studies at MIT. Special issues of both these publications distribute information about environmental subject offerings each term and for IAP.


The Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), an international partnership focused on issues critical to ensuring the sustainability of the global environment, has just completed a very successful first year of activities. PEEER faculty members are active in the research being

developed collaboratively through the Alliance. Three major science and technology institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, and the University of Tokyo are the founding members of AGS. With concerns growing world wide to find pathways to future economic and social development that will be harmonious with protection of the environment, and the future of its vital ecosystems, the partners seek to apply scientific and economic disciplines to define new approaches to a sustainable civilization.

In January 1997, researchers affiliated with the AGS met at MIT to begin forming consortia of multidisciplinary research projects designed to address issues in ten thematic areas. The project areas are: Mobility, Energy, Health, Regional Sustainability (watershed scale), Global Change, Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacturing, Cities of the Future, Regulatory Harmonization and Trade, Framing Sustainability, and Monitoring. Researchers in each thematic area subsequently met throughout the year to discuss and coordinate their work. Several of these workshops and planned activities, in the areas of energy, global change, cleaner technologies, and cities of the future took place during the summer and fall of 1996 and in 1997. Alliance projects are designed to benefit from the differing geographic perspectives of the three institutions' faculties and participants from all continents. Environmental issues of particular significance to developing nations are an additional focus of AGS research. Projects are being structured so that they can achieve maximum synergy among the partner institutions, have major contact with all stakeholders in each decision-making process, and promote world-wide education and communication.

The next annual meeting of the AGS will be held at ETH in Zurich Jan. 22-25, 1998. In addition to the meetings of affiliated faculty from the three founding universities and presentation of ongoing research, the meeting will include the first meeting of the recently appointed AGS International Advisory Board. Stephan Schmidheiny, Swiss industrialist and author of Changing Course and Financing Change about the role industry can play in promoting a sustainable future, will serve as the first Chairman of this Board which includes the presidents of the three universities and six additional members.

Professor Marks is coordinating Alliance activities at MIT. The work of the Alliance projects onto the international stage PEEER's founding principles of knowledge-sharing between all sectors; interdisciplinary approaches to complex environmental issues; and the continuing interplay of research and curricula development.

The mission of the New Center for Environmental Initiatives is to conduct research, curriculum development, outreach and public service on the emerging set of environmental and sustainability issues that impact development and welfare worldwide. The work of the Center is aimed at providing knowledge, demonstration and collaboration in the development of scientifically and economically sound strategies for industry and government to respond to global environmental challenges. It is aimed at forging new relationships between industry, governments , academia and the public to strengthen industry's role as an agent of change in the protection of the environment and sustainability.It is also aimed at developing better synergy between existing MIT efforts in these areas, encouraging new MIT initiatives that complement and broaden them and helping to translate them into MIT educational programs. It will work to build better understanding of the many issues between and among developed and developing nations that arise in the context of meeting global environmental challenges (including questions of eco-efficiency, equity, futurity and security.) It will examine the role of science and technology in forming better environmental policy both from a technical and institutional point of view. It will have a strong commitment to educating a set of emerging environmental and sustainability leaders world wide via joint projects, distance education and special educational programs.

Coordination of the Programs of the Center and relationships with ongoing environmental activities at MIT will be assured through a management team comprised of a faculty Director, Professor David H. Marks of Civil and Environmental Engineering and two Associate Directors, Professor Lawrence Bacow of Urban Planning and Design and Dr. Joanne Kauffman of CEI who will meet regularly with the faculty and management leaders of the individual programs.

Programs of the Center include the following:

MIT Consortium on Environmental Challenges
Objective scientific, technical and economic evaluation of major global environmental issues; Improved policy and decision making on environmental challenges at all level

New Energy Choices (with Energy Lab)
Long term strategies for meeting burgeoning energy demand

Alliance for Global Sustainability
International outreach/networking with other universities worldwide
D. Marks/J. Kauffman

Chemicals in Society
Risk management/ role of the chemical industry

Curriculum Development/Education- Attention to MIT's literacy and strategy for the environment.

David H. Marks

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97